ANZAC Cup Player Spotlight – Tyson Mihocek
On ANZAC Day 2018, the 10th annual ANZAC Cup between the men’s and women’s Australian Spirit sides and their French national team counterparts will be played to mark the 100th anniversary of the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux. AFL Europe will be putting the spotlight on some of the players who will represent Australia each week in the lead-up to the game, highlighting their remarkable connections to the ANZAC’s and previewing an incredible event.
When Nathan Buckley sits down with the Collingwood match committee to select the Magpies side before their ANZAC Day blockbuster against Essendon, the name of 25-year-old first-year player Brody Mihocek will emblazon one of the forty-five magnets that the panel will have at their disposal.
Brody might have to bide his time a little longer before pulling on the black and white on one of footy’s biggest stages, but one member of the Mihocek family has already earned selection for perhaps an even bigger ANZAC Day honour, with older brother Tyson set to represent the Australian Spirit Side against France in the 10th Annual ANZAC Cup to be played in the famous town of Villers-Bretonneux.
Hailing from Melbourne and now living in London, Tyson will be one of 32 Australian’s who will don the green and gold to play in the annual match, a game that takes on added significance this year in marking the 100th Anniversary of the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux in WW1.
The Mihocek family has a rich footballing history after Tyson’s father Jack represented Essendon between 1976-78, and Tyson himself having played for Tasmania at under-18 level, but it will be the family’s military ties that will be front of mind when he crosses the white line in France.
The connection to the Armed Forces stems back to great-great uncles Hugh & William Moore, who at 21 and 25 years of age respectively, made the decision to join the AIF and fight for King and Country.
William Moore was one of the 5,533 Australian’s killed in action in the worst 24 hours in Australian military history during the battle of Fromelles on July 19th, 1916, prompting his younger brother to enlist one month later. Hugh joined the war and served on the Western Front before he too lost his life on April 11th, 1917, whilst fighting to defend a small town in the North of France called Villers-Bretonneux.
Only two weeks after Hugh’s death, Villers-Bretonneux was captured by German forces as part of the spring offensive which left the railyards of Amiens to the West dangerously exposed, before a crucial Australian counter-attack on the night of April 24th drove the Germans out and cemented the ANZAC legacy in the small town forever.
Stepping onto those very same grounds for the sake of football will seem so trivial by comparison, but Tyson says he will have both of his great-great uncles in his thoughts in the lead-up to the game.
“I’ll be thinking about my own family and the part that Hugh and William Moore played in WWI in France. The life we have and privileges that Australian’s enjoy today are because of the sacrifices of people like my great-great uncles” he said.
“Growing up at school I was always eager to learn more about and understand what these young men and women did for our country, but probably more so in the last few years I have taken a keener interest in our own family military history and the involvement of my two great-great uncles in WWI.”
“The fact that I have a family member who fought and sacrificed his life at Villers-Bretonneux is something I really appreciate and look forward to honouring.”
While the location might be a new one, football on ANZAC day has become a staple of Tyson’s yearly commemorations, either playing in local fixtures for the Mallee Eagles in Country Victoria or by watching his beloved Bombers take on Collingwood from his vantage point on centre wing at the MCG.
Though in one of Australia’s most famous theatres of war, neither his experiences at the Lalbert Reserve or the silence of 95,000 at the MCG can prepare him for how he will feel when the last post echoes over the ground in Villers-Bretonneux.
“I know from past experiences when listening to the last post, the sort of emotions and feelings that go through your head. The hairs stand up on your arms and you get a shiver throughout your body” he said.
“I have been fortunate enough to play on ANZAC day several times and quite often as a football club, we would go to the dawn service to pay our respects and play later in the afternoon. It is always an honour to play on ANZAC day and listening to the last post in silence with your teammates is always a special moment.”
No stranger to World War One commemoration games, Tyson previously represented the West London Wildcats against Wandsworth in marking the 100-year anniversary of the first game of Australian Rules played overseas by the elite footballers serving their country in 1916, an honour he looks forward to building on in France.
“To be able to wear the navy-blue strop with the white map of Australia of the Third Australian Division was a wonderful experience. That replica guernsey is something I look forward to keeping forever.”
“Playing in Villers-Bretonneux this year on ANZAC day is something I would never have imagined doing a couple of years ago. It is quite surreal to think that I’ll be able to represent Australia at the very place where my great-great uncle and many other others fought and died to protect our country and just thinking about it makes me feel very lucky and proud to be able to have the opportunity to play in the ANZAC Cup. It is something I will cherish for the rest of my life.”
For all the honour of playing in the ANZAC Cup, there is the small matter of allegiances should brother Brody get selected to play for the Magpies at the ‘G against Tyson’s Dons.
“My mother will be in ‘V-B’ attending the service and watching me play, so we will both be following the match back home closely if my brother was selected to play… still supporting Essendon though of course!”
Riley Brettell – AFL Europe
Stay across afleurope.org and AFL Europe social media channels for more news and build-up to ANZAC Cup 2018.
ANZAC Cup 2018 presented by AFL Europe and major partner National Australia Bank
Special thanks to the organising committee in France, Association Bretonvilloise d’Animation for their ongoing support of the ANZAC Cup